as Nanda maintains, ‘Deconstructing central structural concepts in American society such as race, gender, religion, and ethnicity is an essential component of teaching cultural anthropology as cultural critique and most explicitly requires consideration of encounters and power’ (Nanda 1997: 118). But the intellectual atmosphere of Iran inhibits anthropologists from deconstructing and defamiliarizing these dominant concepts of gender, race, politics, ethnicity and religion;

text came from here

  • There may very well be a mistranslation there or a copy editing mistake: I would assume it should be: encounters with power.
    – Lambie
    Apr 6, 2016 at 18:54
  • then, what does mean "requires consideration of encounters WITH power" exactly?
    – yorgun
    Apr 6, 2016 at 18:58
  • 1
    Hi @yorgun. I want to invite you, and everyone commenting/answering/voting here, to participate in this meta
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 6, 2016 at 19:23
  • If I said to you have you had any encounters with your professors recently, would you understand that? Encounters with power are when a person has experiences (encounters) with others in positions of power or the effects the power those people have on them. I can't see what else it could possibly mean. Individuals encountering different expressions of power: police, judicial system, political power etc.
    – Lambie
    Apr 6, 2016 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


One way to make sense of overly long sentences is to edit them.

Deconstructing concepts such as race, gender, religion, and ethnicity is an essential component of teaching cultural anthropology and requires consideration of encounters and power (Nanda 1997: 118).

With the extra information removed and the subject highlighted it should be clear that if you're going to teach cultural anthropology and throw issues like race, gender, religion and ethnicity in people's faces you should consider how people interact with (encounter) each other and who is in control (a position of power).

This is true in America and Iran alike. But the interactions and who is in power varies by culture. So exactly what this means in Iran is likely beyond the scope of an ELL answer.

But hopefully this is enough to get you back to reading the book.


Let me rephrase my version: In order to deconstruct race, gender … we need to expect possible encounters and interference of power.

  • plz clarify "expect possible encounters" and "interference of power"
    – yorgun
    Apr 7, 2016 at 9:35

The sentence can be condensed to "Deconstructing central structural concepts in American society ... explicitly requires consideration of encounters and power."

First, what does "deconstructing structural concepts in American society" mean? Well, a pertinent definition is "to take apart or examine in order to reveal the basis or composition of often with the intention of exposing biases, flaws, or inconsistencies", so deconstruct means a deep analysis of how people behave, and why. More specifically, this analysis is intended to show the biases and rationalizations which permeate American "race, gender, religion, and ethnicity".

The interactions which are being analyzed are encounters between two or more people, and the analysis is expected to demonstrate the use (and abuse) of power which takes place in these encounters.

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